rockwhatyagot[pinit count=”horizontal” description=”Check out this featured session on Belovely You”]

Beginner and professional photographer alike are always looking for ways to reduce their budgets. Here are some clever photography ideas from one of our readers that can help you not only learn, but also minimize your expenses while doing it.

I often have people asking me questions about photography. What camera should I get? Should I take classes? Can you teach me? I wish I could teach everyone everything I know, but the truth is this: I don’t know even half of what others know, and I basically taught myself.

Success comes from hard work, determination and consistency. Step outside your comfort zone and do the hard stuff to make it happen. It takes a willingness to keep learning even after you think you “got it”.

I love taking courses and workshops and continue to do so. Not only do I learn new techniques, I also make new lifelong friends while finding inspiration from new artists.

When you are new to photography (or even just new to digital photography), there is a lot to learn. And, it can be super overwhelming. There is a great tendency to spend more money than we really need to as often we believe that more money means better equipment which in turn means we take better pictures.

Not true.

An amazing artist can take just as great photographs on a lower end camera, and I personally know many talented photographers who use crop sensor “starter” DSLR cameras and you would never know it! So, how can we rock what we got?

I am going to list some of the budget friendly ways I grew as a photographer and maybe some of these will help you grow as well!

1. Learn your camera. Cost: FREE!

Read your manual. Study the little CD guide that often comes with some cameras. If you bought second hand and do not have a manual, guess what? I guarantee you can find a copy of your camera’s manual online as a free download!

Just search the make and model, and save the manual to your computer. I promise that just knowing the ins and outs of the camera you have will improve your knowledge enough and you can start taking photos outside of “auto” mode.

I shot with my Canon Rebel T3 for years, and I actually still pull it out as a back up now and then. The more I got to know it, the better my images became with it even though it’s not considered a high-end professional camera.

Taken with my Canon Rebel T3
Taken with my Canon Rebel T3.

2. Google Search. Cost: FREE!

Mr. Google knows everything, doesn’t he? Well, maybe not everything, but he can usually help us find out what we need to know. For me, Google was one of my greatest tools when I was just beginning.

Not only did it lead me to some of my favourite sources of inspiration and how-to tutorials, it’s even helped me decide when not to purchase items I didn’t really need.

When researching: a) our cameras, b) how to use software, c) a particular editing technique, or d) maybe, you just want to view images that others have created with the same camera or lens as you, Google will lead the way.

Search different keywords, then follow links found on other pages. Just spend a few moments looking around. I will say that Google has been a great tool for me especially when I was just beginning.

A second helpful and free internet source is YouTube. There are videos on everything as simple as how to turn on your camera, to advanced editing techniques.

3. 50mm Prime Lens. Cost: $100-150

This “nifty fifty” was the first lens I purchased when I first bought my DSLR, and you can usually get one for under $150.

It takes some getting used to as most of us have only used zoom lenses, but you will quickly learn to use your feet to zoom by moving closer or farther from your subject.

Compared to the lens that comes with your camera, which is usually a 18-55mm lens that changes aperture as you zoom in or out, the nifty fifty will stay put at the aperture you set it at.

This will help you learn what settings you prefer and give you more control over the pictures you are taking. The glass in this lens is also much better than the kit lens which gives you clearer images.

Not to mention you can shoot with an aperture as wide at 1.8 which will give you that “blurry background” most of us strive for (called bokeh).

Another one taken with my starter camera, my Canon Rebel T3.
Another one taken with my starter camera, my Canon Rebel T3.

4. Join a Forum. Cost: Varies

Forums are awesome. You can learn so much from photographers from all levels, from brand spanking new (as in, they haven’t even taken the camera out of the box!), to seasoned vets.

The only problem may be choosing the right forum for you as there are so many. Personally, the first one I joined was Clickinmoms.

I think it may have the largest membership and is chalked full of information. I am also a member of The Bloom Forum. It’s smaller than Clickinmoms, but I love it for totally different reasons such as the inspiring photographers and all the film talk.

Most of the forums offer a free trial too so I would suggest trying them out first to see which one speaks to you. Most of them offer workshops which can be pivotal in your learning as well.

There’s definitely more out there than this too, like In Beauty and Chaos, Light Inspired, and Rock the Shot to name a few. Take a look around and see what each one offers. Do a free trial, if that’s an option. Pick the one that you’re going to get the most out of based on your business.

5. Photography Blogs. Cost: Free!

I love blogs like Belovely You because they are full of not only gorgeous images, but tips and tutorials related to the photographs.

You can learn a lot by looking through a post of images you love while at the same time, reading about how the photographer achieved that look, style, or technique.

Warning though…you may spend many hours of your time getting lost in the beautiful world of photography!

Clever Photography Ideas Are About The Art Not the Equipment

In conclusion, you should not rely on expensive equipment for incredible pictures, you should rely on your ability to use what you have wisely instead. It is better for you to learn your equipment that you have in depth before rushing out to purchase the newest, ‘best’ thing. Experiment with different techniques to find an incredible edge to your art. And most important, connect with others who love the art of photography to help keep your creative juices flowing.

Another great, free resource to help get your ideas flowing are these free actions from MCP (affiliate link). Actions are great for helping to kickstart your editing, and may even breathe some fresh life into your editing style.

Also, here is a free app to get access to FREE photography books via Amazon Kindle (affiliate)!

Feel free to check out more DIY tips here


Published by Bobbi-Jo Stuart

Bobbi-Jo Stuart is a lifestyle wedding and portrait photographer living in Ontario Canada. She fell in love with photography as a young child and has taken used passion to create a successful business. Bobbi-Jo loves finding interesting ways to use light and breaking all the photography "rules" to create thoughtful imagery.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.